Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? Prepare teachers vs. Test students

July 5, 2011 at 9:22 am 2 comments

Really interesting piece that argues against the US approach of getting smart teachers into the classrooms quickly, then checking them with standardized tests and credentialing.  Instead, most of the rest of the world (and in particular, countries that get better results than the US) makes it hard to get credentials to teach, then gives the teachers significant autonomy.  The results there are smart, prepared teachers who don’t worry about standardized tests — and who succeed.

You can see how these international examples cut against the grain of U.S. education reform. Our approach has largely borrowed the Teach for America model. First, we attempt to bring more elite college graduates into the teaching profession by decreasing the credentialing necessary to become a teacher: no student-teaching year or education degree required, just a few weeks of summertime training are supposed to suffice. Then we expect teachers to spend much of their time preparing children for standardized tests, whose results, in turn, will be used to judge teachers’ competency.

The NCEE report makes a persuasive case that the Obama administration and its allies in the standards-and-accountability school reform movement have teaching policy exactly backward. The way to increase the prestige of the teaching profession is not to make it easier for elite people to do the job for a few years and then burn out, but to make it more challenging to earn a teaching credential so that smart young people are attracted to the rigor of education programs. Within such a system, alternative credentialing programs for career changers could still play an important role. But it’s important to realize that alternative pathways will never have the capacity to provide the entire teacher corps.

via Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? – Ezra Klein – The Washington Post.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Garth  |  July 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    This sort of confirms what most experienced teachers have known for years. The new teachers we get are prepared to teach perfect little angles, not real live kids with real live social and educational problems. They need more time as student teachers with more varied types of classes to be really prepared. In my simple minded opinion the learning of content is greatly over stressed, at least in the science and math fields where my experience is, while pedagogy is greatly under-stressed. Four years of college math; calculus, abstract algebra, non-Euclidean geometry, ordinary differential equations, etc., does not prepare a teacher how to teach a kid who is not the sharpest pencil in the box how to solve for x in a simple linear equation with a fractional coefficient. That is learned by watching someone who has been doing it for 10 years and has developed several approaches. Having knowledge of content has very little connection to being able to teach that content to a bunch of average high school freshmen.

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  • […] Is the U.S. doing teacher reform all wrong? Prepare teachers vs. Test students (computinged.wordpress.com) […]

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